Harrison McCain Foundation Awards $1 Million to Acadia

New award program will encourage on-campus innovation in teaching and research, and fund academic exchanges and collaboration.

Acadia University and the Harrison McCain Foundation today announced the launch of a five-year $1-million program to enhance faculty excellence in research, instruction, and community engagement. The program, which contains three distinct components, is the result of a gift to Acadia from the Foundation, and is aimed primarily at emerging scholars.

"This generous gift from the Harrison McCain Foundation is a significant vote of confidence in the talent and capacity of Acadia's emerging scholars," said Ray Ivany, Acadia's President and Vice-Chancellor. "These three awards will advance innovative research and encourage early-career scholars to explore new ways of teaching and engaging students. Because of Acadia's size and the existing degree of collaboration between faculty members and disciplines, these awards will increase the pace of change in our already dynamic learning environment."

Beginning in 2011, Harrison McCain Young Scholars Awards of $100,000 will be provided annually to support five to seven talented faculty members who show individual promise in one or more areas of faculty development, teaching, research or community service.

To recognize the increasing number of global opportunities for faculty enrichment, the Foundation will also provide $70,000 annually in support of Harrison McCain Visiting Professorships to support both emerging and well-established scholars who wish to visit Acadia.

In the third element of the program, the Foundation will provide $30,000 annually to establish two Harrison McCain Visitorships to support Acadia faculty who identify short-term professional development and collaborative opportunities at other institutions. These visitorships will be particularly valuable to faculty in the early stages of their career as they face the challenges of establishing research programs in an increasingly competitive funding environment.

All awards will be administered through Acadia's Office of the Vice-President, Academic.

"Each year, Acadia's faculty and our learning environment rank among the best in the country," added Ivany. "These awards will provide incremental support to outstanding scholars around the world looking for short-term opportunities to visit and collaborate at Acadia. When professors from elsewhere spend time at Acadia, they benefit, our students and faculty benefit, and word about Acadia spreads internationally."

"These awards have the potential to dramatically enhance Acadia's profile in Canada's research community, underscoring our unique student-focused research environment," said Dr. Tom Herman, Acadia's Vice-President, Academic. "We have a host of early-career scholars performing important work in a diverse array of disciplines. They will be able to use these awards to leverage additional funding from the public and private sectors - enlarging Acadia's intellectual and economic footprint in Nova Scotia."

"I want to thank the Harrison McCain Foundation for recognizing the value of supporting scholars early in their career when they are testing the boundaries of their knowledge and generating enthusiasm for research within their students," he added. "The impact this gift will have is disproportionately greater at Acadia than at a larger institution with a deeper and more established pool of resources."

The Harrison McCain Foundation was established in 1997 by the late H. Harrison McCain, C.C., O.N.B. It is governed by his family and three outside Directors.

"Our father wanted us to make a continuing investment in Atlantic Canadian universities," said Ann McCain Evans. "Each year, 35 or more major scholarships, based on financial need, are awarded to students entering universities in Atlantic Canada. The Foundation also chooses, from time to time, to undertake a special investment in areas of work by universities which would have been of particular interest to our father. His focus, while building McCain Foods, was always on people, so it seems fitting that this investment of $1 million should focus on young university faculty and ultimately benefit the students he supported in so many other ways. He was a graduate of Acadia, and as such, I think he would be very pleased with this initiative."

Harrison McCain graduated from Acadia University in 1949 with a degree in economics and was a lifelong supporter of Acadia and its students prior to his death in 2004. As a student, Mr. McCain was instrumental in establishing Acadia's original Students' Union Building, chairing a student committee that raised the final funds to allow the building to open in 1950.



Research Backgrounder

Acadia Recent Research Highlights

With numerous research centres on campus, Acadia University offers expertise in areas as diverse as the science of coastal environments, Ethnocultural diversity and social justice, environmental monitoring and climate change, food sensory research, organizational relationships, data mining, New England Planter studies, the impact of digital technologies, and lifestyle choices contributing to health and wellness.  Examples of emerging work on campus include:


Tidal Power Energy Research

Harnessing the tidal power of the Minas Passage could make this region one of the richest sources of green energy in the world. Acadia researchers, led by Dr. Anna Redden, are assessing the amount of energy available and the implications of placing a tidal turbine in the passage - both on the fish there, and on the turbine, which must withstand moving debris and ice boulders.


Improving Water Quality

New technology that will turn polluted water into clean, reusable water is being tested at Acadia University in collaboration with industrial partners. Called a membrane bioreactor, it promises a new and simple way to monitor and treat wastewater that will have positive implications for industrial  and farm use. This research is being led by Dr. Anthony Tong and a team of students at Acadia.


Safer Rural Drinking Water

Small communities will have safer water through advances being made in drinking water disinfection and water quality by Acadia's Dr. Jenny Rand. Her research team is developing innovative technologies and techniques to monitor, track, and treat nitrogen species, such as ammonia and nitrate - making water safer for consumers in rural communities.


Better Water, Better Medicine

Understanding the way molecules behave is key to finding new ways to treat wastewater, and discover new drugs to treat diseases like cancer. Led by researcher Dr. Sherri McFarland, Acadia students now have access to sophisticated equipment to improve their research. Called a femtosecond laser, it is arguably the world's fastest camera and most powerful microscope rolled into one. It's ability to capture molecular activity so quickly, and at such a small scale, will make a huge difference to the research team.


Better Wines Through Acadia Research

Wines in Nova Scotia will grow better, provide a better business return, and may even taste better thanks to the work of Acadia researchers and students. Working with wineries in the Annapolis Valley, Acadia researchers and the Grape Growers and Winery Associations of Nova Scotia are responding to the needs of growers to help the industry. This summer, Acadia biology students conducted research at a local winery, while business students have begun work on various business problems alongside a number of business faculty members.  Other research projects include examining consumer acceptance and market potential for a new value-added wine product, as well as projects analyzing the chemical compounds in local varieties of wine. Dr. Kirk Hillier is also leading an nationally-funded, industry-wide initiative to examine current insect populations and design an insect mitigation strategy, and a business project to determine grape growing capacity here in Nova Scotia. 


Healthy Lifestyle Learning

If diabetics want to mitigate their symptoms and better manage their disease, Acadia researchers and students are ready to help. Led by Dr. Jonathon Fowles, Acadia has produced a Physical Activity and Exercise Toolkit for people with diabetes. The toolkit consists of am instructional video DVD and informational pamphlets outlining a workout routine for people with diabetes. It is the result of research at Acadia's School of Recreation Management and Kinesiology.

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